The Compensation Committee oversees our executive compensation program and benefit plans and policies; administers our short- and long-term incentive plans, including equity-based programs; oversees and annually reviews short- and long-term as well as emergency succession planning; approves compensation decisions for officers; recommends CEO total compensation to the full Board; and annually reviews the performance of the CEO. The Compensation Committee oversees the risk assessment of our executive and non-executive compensation programs. The Compensation Committee also considers and makes recommendations to the full Board regarding compensation for independent directors.
The Compensation Committee meets the independence requirements set forth in Section 303A.02 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual, and each member qualifies as an independent director under Rule 16b-3 of the Exchange Act and as an outside director under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. The Compensation Committee frequently meets in executive sessions and meets with its compensation consultant outside of the presence of management.
The Compensation Committee has authority to retain and dismiss compensation consultants and other advisors that provide objective advice, information and analysis regarding executive and director compensation. These consultants report directly to, and may meet separately with, the Compensation Committee, and may consult with the Compensation Committee Chairman between meetings. The Compensation Committee retained Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC (Meridian) as its independent consultant to advise it as to executive and director compensation in 2017. The Compensation Committee considered the factors outlined by the NYSE and determined that Meridian is independent under those factors, and that Meridian's work in 2017 did not create any conflict of interest with respect to its representation of the Compensation Committee. See "Compensation Process – Role of Independent Compensation Consultant" in the Compensation Discussion and Analysis section for a description of Meridian's duties.
The Compensation Committee has authorized Mr. Stanley, our CEO, and Margo Fiala, the Vice President of Human Resources, in their respective capacities as officers, to grant restricted stock to newly hired employees and for employee retention up to a limit of $250,000 per grant. This authority is subject to certain limitations, and does not extend to grants to officers or directors. The full Compensation Committee reviews each grant made by Mr. Stanley or Ms. Fiala at its next meeting following any such grant. The Compensation Committee has also delegated to its Chair, currently Mr. Heinemann, authority to replenish the pool of shares to be granted by Mr. Stanley or Ms. Fiala. The full Compensation Committee reviews any such replenishment at its next meeting following the replenishment.
The Governance Committee, which also functions as the Company's nominating committee, is responsible for committee assignments; new director searches; drafting and revising the Corporate Governance Guidelines; conducting annual evaluations of the Board, its committees and individual directors; and making recommendations to the full Board on various governance issues. All members of the Governance Committee meet the independence requirements set forth in Section 303A.02 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual.
The Governance Committee's Charter defines the criteria for director nominees, including nominees recommended by shareholders and nominees selected by the Governance Committee. These criteria provide a framework for evaluating all nominees as well as incumbent directors. The key criteria are personal and professional integrity and ethics; experience in the Company's business; experience as a CEO, president, CFO or senior officer of a public company or extensive experience in finance or accounting; currently active in business at least part time or recently retired, with skills and experience needed to serve as a member of the Board; experience as a board member of another public company; willingness to commit time and resources to serve as a director; and good business judgment, including the ability to make independent analytical inquiries. The Governance Committee considers candidates who will contribute a broad range of knowledge, talents, skills and expertise, particularly in the areas of the oil and natural gas industry, strategic planning, accounting and finance, corporate governance, management and diversity of the Board in terms of race, gender, ethnicity or professional background, sufficient to provide prudent guidance about the Company's operations and interests. Board nominees must be less than 72 years of age, unless that requirement is waived by the Board.